The American Way of War: Part 2-How Americans Wage War
Sun Jun 8 01:57:31 2008
The Weigley article “How Americans Wage War” (in Chambers & Piehler, 1999) is an attempt to summarize the much fuller and slightly different treatment in his book The American Way of War written toward the end of the Vietnam War. Weigley devotes Part One of The American Way of War to America’s approach to waging war with limited resources during the Revolution and the early years of the Republic. He devotes a chapter to Washington and his strategy of attrition and another to Nathanael Greene and his strategy of partisan or guerilla warfare. He argues that these were important parts of the American military tradition that have been replaced by the strategy of annihilation, developed during the Civil War and was applied with great success in World War II.
Weigley, following Wylie’s Military Strategy, thought that war represented a collapse of policy and once war begins it has a logic of it’s own that is beyond the control of policy. The thought that the US can achieve its goals by a limited, measured and controlled application of coercive or punitive violence is an illusion. The US will either have to eventually commit to a costly unlimited war or more likely accept some level of defeat. Weigley believe that “the history of usable combat may at last be reaching its end.”
In his article “How Americans Wage War” (1999), Weigley has altered his original position somewhat to suggest that the model of Washington and Greene may offer a valid contemporary alternative to total war and the strategy of annihilation.